March 21st is the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (IDERD), a global day of recognition of both the historical and ongoing instances of racial discrimination in the world. Proclaiming the day in 1966 (in specific response to police attacks on peaceful protests in South Africa in 1961), the United Nations General Assembly called on the international community to redouble its efforts to eliminate all forms of racial discrimination.

This year, STELIP was fortunate enough to be welcomed into Arthur Voaden and East Elgin Secondary Schools to deliver customized programming to a classroom of senior students. The subject matter revolved around the concept of unconscious bias, and it wasn’t without a certain amount of misgiving that STELIP introduced this academic concept to the day’s audience. However, STELIP staff were thrilled with the response and interest shown by the youth, who engaged with the material to produce meaningful discussion on how the community can work together to build bridges between cultures and people in St. Thomas and Elgin County. Special thanks to both Ms. Mattingley and Ms. Jordan for fostering such open and honest students within their respective classrooms and entrusting us to lead them for the day!

STELIP also collaborated with the St. Thomas library to curate a collection of books and multimedia on topics related to diversity, racism and discrimination for display within the facility throughout the week. Library staff reported that the books and DVD’s were flying off of the shelf far-faster than anticipated, an encouraging indication of the public’s interest in the perspectives and stories of other cultures and races. Thank you to library staff–in particular Jess Huber–for your enthusiasm throughout the planning and implementation of the display!